Joy

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three

“Joy Daisy? Yeah, she was Joy DeVries back then. I used to live a few doors down from her family when I was a kid. They were a pretty normal family, I guess. Miz DeVries was active with the church, did bake sales and penny auctions. Didn’t see the Mister often - I guess he worked out of town, long hours. We weren’t in the same grade so I didn’t interact with her much. She was in all the school plays, and they went away a lot so she could be in commercials and that old kids show she filmed for a bit. If I’da known she was gonna be so famous one day, maybe I’da gotten to know her a little better.”

“Yeah, lived in this town all my life. Oh, you’re asking people about the DeVries’? Joy really put our little village on the map, didn’t she? Are you looking for the deep dark childhood dirt? Sorry, you looked so excited for a second, I don’t have any dirt. They were squeaky clean, that family. Never stood out, for good stuff or bad stuff. Just normal.”

“I dated Joy for a few months when we were fifteen. I mean, as much as fifteen-year-olds can date. She was home to cram some school exams before heading off to cancun or some shit for the summer to do some modeling. I knew she’d break up with me before she left, what hot girl wants to be tied down to some guy in Canada while she’s sipping virgin mojitos on the beach, right? So I took her to a couple of movies. We did a monster truck show once, she seemed into that. I hoped to get some action before she got sick of me, you know how it is, but she never seemed like she was into it, so we just hung out. She was cool to talk to, anyway. And she liked all the gory action movies. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to take a chick to see the shit that we used to watch together.”

“Oh wow, who told you that I used to babysit Joy when she was a toddler? God this town is too small, isn’t it? Yeah, I used to watch her. Mrs. DeVries didn’t need it often, because she was a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes if she had something labour-intensive going on at the church, or she wanted to go into the city for a spa day, she’d ask me to look after Joy. She was super easy to take care of, honestly. Even when she was just two years old she’d just occupy herself. I could just hang on the couch and scroll through Instagram for hours and Joy would sit and colour or do puzzles or whatever, totally engrossed in what she was doing. I’d have to ask her if she was hungry because she’d just forget. I have five younger siblings, and they were all completely insane as toddlers, I don’t think any one of them could sit still for longer than thirty seconds. Looking back, it’s really surreal what a chill little kid she was.”

“Never heard o’ the DeVries family, man.”

“Yeah, that was their house, just over there, the little yellow one with the blue trim. Cute, right? My aunt was the selling agent when they moved. Joy’d already been gone for a few years, or well, like, gone gone. They weren’t around much because she was so busy with work and school, but once she hit legal age she actually packed up her stuff and like, moved out. Then her parents left a few years later, and didn’t even tell anyone. They were super quiet about the whole thing, didn’t make a big to-do, just privately sold their house and then all of a sudden there was a moving truck, and then they were gone. If Mrs. DeVries told anyone where they moved to, then the whole town would have known pretty quick, gossip is like air around here.”

“Yes dear, I was the Pastor’s wife when Margaret DeVries was a member of our congregation. She was a sweet woman, but you know, I never understood why she let Joy stop coming to church. She got along so well with the other kids in Sunday school, and sat so nicely through mass. It was a shame when she stopped coming, and Margaret didn’t like talking about it. As her mother, it’s her duty to make sure her daughter’s soul is right in the eyes of God. But I suppose it’s not my prerogative to judge. Only God can do that. What’s that, dear? No, Margaret never told me where they were moving to. Never even came by to say goodbye. Her and Robert just up and left. I wasn’t offended, God has a plan, you know, dear.”

“Wherever they are, I hope they’re proud of what their daughter has made of herself.”

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